"How Old Is It?"

The promise of the administration of the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a high-level review of its policy of selling the creationist book, “Grand Canyon: A Different View”, has gone unfulfilled for three years. A press release from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) takes aim at the near-terminal foot-dragging of the ideology-driven NPS administration in Washington D.C. A three-year promise of this sort is well past its sell date.

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Here’s a thought for a New Year’s Resolution for the NPS administration: do the review and clear up this issue.

While the major problem of no NPS review of the Vail book noted by the PEER press release is easily verified, there is another issue that they bring up that we here at PT are checking out.

In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

The implication is that park interpretive staff are currently officially barred from giving the ages for the Grand Canyon as determined by our best scientific understanding. That would mark a far more intrusive policy problem in NPS than just the issue over selling a creationist book. So far as we here can tell, the park interpretive staff have received no such official injunction against telling it like it is when it comes to the age of geological features in the Grand Canyon. This is likely an unfortunate bit of hyperbole in the PEER press release that could distract from their major and undisputed point about nonfeasance when it comes to the review of the policy on selling a creationist book at the Grand Canyon park bookstores. It’s not that the park staff are being told not to give the ages of the Grand Canyon strata or when the Colorado River cut them, but that they’re still not being given the tools to address questions about science and religion issues, and they still have this unresolved issue of creationist misinformation being sold right there in the bookstore hanging.